Journal of Public Health

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 543–551 | Cite as

Whole-of-community approaches to reducing alcohol-related harm: What do communities think?

  • Suzanne Czech
  • Anthony P. Shakeshaft
  • Courtney Breen
  • Robert W. Sanson-Fisher
Original Article



A whole-of-community approach can be defined as a range of intervention strategies simultaneously implemented across a whole community. One possibility for the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of this type of approach to reducing alcohol-related harm is that whole-of-community strategies to date have not examined whether this type of approach, relative to alternative strategies, is acceptable to communities.


The acceptability of a whole-of-community approach and a range of uni-dimensional strategies are examined using 3,017 survey responses from a random sample of 7,985 individuals (aged 18–62) across 20 rural communities in NSW, Australia, as part of a large-scale randomised controlled trial: the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities (AARC) project. Using the Australian Electoral Roll, the sample was selected to reflect specific characteristics (i.e., gender and age) of each participating town as defined in the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 census.


Relative to other commonly implemented intervention strategies, the whole-of-community approach acceptability rating (85.5%) was statistically significantly greater than increased random breath testing (80.7%), pharmacist information (76.2%) and workplace training (77.0%), and less than increased pub/club compliance (95.8%), high-school programs (96.2%), increased police enforcement (89.5%) and hospital-based advice (88.6%). Intervention acceptability ratings were not associated with exposure to the suggested intervention with two exceptions: those exposed to pub/club compliance provided a lower acceptability rating, while those exposed to workplace training/policies provided a higher acceptability rating.


The high level of public support for alcohol interventions and the relatively low exposure to such interventions suggest scope for increasing awareness of intervention activity in communities and implementing a coherent whole-of-community approach.


Alcohol Community-support Community-intervention Public health Australia 



This study was supported by a grant from the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AERF), as part of the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities (AARC) project (Australian Clinical Trials Registry Number 012607000123448). The authors thank Barbara Toson for her assistance with selecting the most appropriate statistical analyses to interpret our findings.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne Czech
    • 1
  • Anthony P. Shakeshaft
    • 1
  • Courtney Breen
    • 1
  • Robert W. Sanson-Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)University of New South Wales (UNSW)SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Medicine and Health ScienceUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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